Summary: Moving another step towards the information society, the European Commission unveiled a Green Paper aimed at launching a broad debate on the definition of a radio spectrum policy on December 9. Due to a number of factors including technological progress, globalisation of services, suppliers and users and new applications, radio spectrum has become an increasingly scarce commodity of considerable economic and political importance. This raises new policy and regulatory issues. The Green Paper asks a number of questions in order to help the European Union to find appropriate solutions among all concerned parties including industry, consumers, non-commercial users and public authorities. Comments will be expected by April 15, 1999.

Radio spectrum is the wireless infrastructure for a large number of activities including telecommunications, broadcasting, transport (traffic control, navigation), research (e.g. earth astronomy, space exploration) and public services (e.g. police, fire departments, defence). Each radio application, for example garage door openers, baby monitors, cellular telephones, global positioning has its own frequency band within the radio spectrum. Actual use and demand for certain frequency bands have created a situation of congestion: demand for frequencies is much greater than what is available. This is mainly due to the globalisation of services and companies involved, the increasing number of commercial and public applications and easier access to frequency spectrum with digital technologies. The Green Paper points out that a number of EU policies rely on the availability of radio spectrum. However, the political and legal context of these policies differs significantly from sector to sector. Thus, in the telecommunications sector, political and legislative positions...

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